Lots of changes are going to come to the Baltimore Orioles between now and…whenever. Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette’s contract is up at the end of the season, and the suspicion is that he’s all but gone (as has been covered here and on other columns). That’s only one position that’s potentially going to turn over. But perhaps…has it already?
According to Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal, the Orioles have hired John Vidalin, formerly of the NBA’s Miami Heat, as the Chief Operating Officer for Business Operations. This is a new position that was created for Vidalin, who was the Heat’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Revenue Officer. Prior to that he had worked in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
This isn’t a hire that made a lot of waves. Sharrow’s article actually was published on July 3rd. But it is interesting to say the least. Vidalin’s only going to be in charge of “business operations.” This while Duquette’s still overseeing “baseball operations.” So in theory the two are mutually exclusive. But the timing is still interesting.
First and foremost, we know that a purge of the roster is forthcoming at some point – for all we know as early as today or tomorrow. (I don’t say that with any knowledge of something coming down the pike, but more so because the chips could start falling at anytime.) It stands to reason that the Orioles wouldn’t want Duquette overseeing the beginning of that process (or any part of it) unless he’s going to be here moving forward – which for all I know he might be. But that appears doubtful at this time.
So…did the Orioles just hire Duquette’s replacement? There is precedent for this in a sense. When they hired Andy MacPhail mid-year of 2007, Jim Duquette and the late Mike Flanagan were still technically the co-GM’s. Bowden has said previously that he found out about the hire on the day of the press conference. The two were kept on the payroll for the remainder of their contracts (through the end of the season) in essence as figureheads, MacPhail called the shots from that point forward.
Is it possible that something similar is happening here? It’s possible. It could also be just a new hire in a newly-created position that the Angelos family felt was necessary. According to the Baltimore Business Journal article, Viadlin is focusing on ballpark upgrades, the gameday experience, growing ticket sales, and other aspects. However keep in mind that all of those duties would also fall under the job description of a President of Operations.
The fact is that we don’t know what’s going on. Which means we’ll have to wait and see what the Angelos brothers do. I found it interesting that this hire was made under the radar. If Viadlin starts taking a more public role in the immediate future, perhaps the Orioles have found their man.